• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

Finnishing Food Waste?

It’s always nice to learn about food waste in a country we don’t often hear from. Today, we see a study on food waste in Finland.

Three quick thoughts on the report:

  • Finns waste less food than most Europeans/North Americans.
  • Finnish households produce more waste than any other sector (30-40 percent of the waste). But…I’m not sure if the study accounts for farm level waste. Food grown but not harvested usually tops home waste, but isn’t always counted in these studies.
  • I love how the study transforms food waste into its environmental impact. About 1 percent of Finnish greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste.
April 23, 2012 | Posted in International | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

The curbside composting program in State College, Penn. is up and roaring and slated to go borough-wide in 2013.

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Glad to hear that URI is trying to minimize its food waste, but I’ve never heard of the need for “waste refrigerators” to keep waste cool before composting. And compost collection certainly happens in places a lot warmer than Rhode Island.

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The EPA has partnered with food recovery group Philabundance to help divert food from landfills as part of the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

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In another kind of challenge, Squawkfox is touting a $55 million Food Waste Challenge. The Canadian site is hoping its 37,000 readers commit to reducing their household waste to save $1,500 each. Definitely worth squawking about.

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And finally, Aramark (minus the caps lock) toots its own trayless horn. Encouragingly, removing trays from all-you-can eat facilities is pretty much the norm.

April 20, 2012 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Bieber Battles Waste

There’s that constant blog temptation to link to popular search terms like Bieber and American Wasteland. But this time there’s good reason: Justin Bieber loves food and hates waste.

The Biebs recently trimmed his food demands in his tour rider, demanding less dressing room food at each concert venue. Perhaps the pop star made the change as a result of his mounting eco awareness. Or maybe it came in response to said rider being published on The Smoking Gun. (Four loaves of bread does seem a bit much.)

No matter the reason, seeing this quote appear in Seventeen, where it’ll reach plenty of adoring girls, is neat:

“Recently, there were so many things in my rider that went to waste, so I took a lot of things off my rider. Every day we were buying all this stuff and it was just sitting there. I got rid of it, I didn’t want to waste all the food.”

April 16, 2012 | Posted in Events | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

The Wormdorf Astoria is now taking reservations. A Boca Raton man has created compact vermiculture method and named it creatively.

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Zéro Gâchis? My French is a little rusty, but I think it translates to ‘cool app.’

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Some big names are investing in food waste-to-energy companies.

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This just in from ConAgra, who illustrate that no detail is too small to consider, especially when you’re producing food on a large scale:

Plant leaders worked with Quality Assurance to determine that excess flour used to prevent dough from sticking to rollers could be repurposed. The new process will save 96.2 tons of safe flour from heading to a landfill annually.

April 13, 2012 | Posted in Energy, Friday Buffet, International, Vermiculture | Comments closed

An Awesome Infographic

Kudos to Door-to-Door Organics, for producing this awesome infographic! It really helps raise awareness on the issue food waste.

April 9, 2012 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

ABC News weighs in with 5 Worst Food Storage Mistakes. While I don’t love the subtle tone of paranoia (4 days for leftovers?!) there’s some decent advice there.

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Cal Baptist seems to be awash in food waste reduction. There’s nothing revolutionary going on, but a refreshing commitment to minimizing waste.

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German Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection aims to minimize food waste by raising awareness on what exactly expiration dates are: guidelines. And what they’re not: deadlines. Amen!

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Great to hear about the Second Servings program at the Univ. of South Carolina. When the Food Recovery Hall of Fame opens, Chase Mizzell’s bow tie will be on display.

April 6, 2012 | Posted in College, Food Safety, Friday Buffet, Household, International | Comments closed

Technology to the Rescue?

Love Food, Hate Waste.

Love Technology, Hate Waste?

One question that keeps coming up in my world is whether technology and/or the web can reduce food waste. Certainly, both can, but how?

There’s AmpleHarvest.org, the backyard produce-to-food bank search aid. And then there’s Zero Percent, a site to help restaurants reduce waste via donations or deals. A recent Forbes article touched on the tech topic. And I wrote about it a while back. But I have a sense that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In 5 or 10 years, the answers on how technology will help avoid food waste will seem obvious (and I have a sense that tech will be implicit in all future waste reduction). But for now there are only guesses. What’s yours?

April 4, 2012 | Posted in Technology | Comments closed

Student Input

I recently spoke to an engaged food studies class at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). The course, known as Eats 101, is an honors seminar on food and culture in the program in Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development.

After talking about food waste for a bit, I asked the students for their ideas on reducing waste. Since their answers were so sharp and this was at a public university, I thought it only fair to share their ideas. Here are some highlights, organized by subject area and without editorial comment from yours truly.


  • Grow less
  • Form better relationships with more people to sell directly to them
  • Create a local need database to link farmers with the needy. (This sort of exists with Ample Harvest)
  • Rebuff Farm Lobby so US Ag policy doesn’t only focus on commodity crops
  • Improve irrigation technology (minimizing the impact of food waste)


  • Avoid visible “sell-by” dates to minimize confusion with “use-by” dates.
  • Reduced prices for imperfect goods and items near their “sell-by” date
  • Institute a reward system for buying these goods
  • Move away from the idea that a store can never run out of anything
  • Cut down on choices/# of items


  • Serve fewer menu items and aim to use similar foods in apps and mains
  • Be seasonal and local (to avoid shipment and kitchen shelf loss)
  • Offer choice of small, medium and large portions
  • Don’t be afraid to run out of food–it seems more exclusive!
  • Market food waste reduction efforts
  • Give discount for bringing own leftover container


  • Plan meals ahead and make a shopping list
  • Use the entire animal, whenever possible
  • Hold neighborhood leftover potlucks–other people aren’t sick of your leftovers!
  • Create neighborhood listserv for sharing excess food/ingredients
  • Write a recipe book for creative reuse of foods
  • Redistribute on the run–make two sandwiches in the morning and give one to someone in need.
April 2, 2012 | Posted in College | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Big news from NYT’s Green Blog: An international report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change addresses food waste as one of its seven recommendations:

Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices,
processing, distribution and household habit

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Every so often I see reports on food waste-to-energy installations like the Muckbuster (great name!). Could somebody just come out with the Mr. Fusion trash-powered car already?

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Michigan State may not be in the Final Four, but they’re conducting a waste audit

March 30, 2012 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Beautiful Decay

Rotting food still lifes, anyone? For those so inclined, Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler has created that very thing with his latest project, One Third.

The one third refers to the amount of food worldwide that isn’t consumed, according to the FAO.  Pichler decided to point attention to the global issue of food waste by showing food being…wasted.

The series shows food in various forms of decay. In a way, the images visually stunning. Yet the portrayal of waste–given the actual squandering on display–can be hard to view.

Some of the photographs are nauseating. And others are downright spooky. But, on the whole, they do make us think.

March 28, 2012 | Posted in Food Safety, International | Comments closed
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